Counseling Sheet

Rationale for Fat-Free or Low-Fat Diets

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

Fats are essential for proper functioning of the body, but added fat in foods is not necessary. Most foods contain some fats, including turnip greens, apples, cherries, grapes, squash, sweet potatoes, etc. Even when selecting a dietary entirely free of added fats, one can be assured that if the foods are natural one will obtain sufficient numbers and quantities of fatty acids to supply all the body's requirements.

If one has severe arterial or coronary heart disease we may use a total oil-free diet, which restricts not only added fats but also most nuts, seeds, legumes, and high-fat fruits (olives and avocados); as well as all animal products (meat, milk, eggs, and cheese). We hope to accomplish by this diet the reduction of blood fats and subsequently the reduction of tissue fats. With this diet we can be certain that we are doing everything possible to encourage the reduction of fatty plaques inside the heart and arterial system.

Certain diseases are characterized by a low oxygen supply to the tissues. Since fats in the blood cut down on tissue oxygen saturation, the attempt is made through diet to assist in oxygenation of the tissues. In these diseases, as well as in some milder cases of vascular disease, we may prescribe a "refined oil-free diet." It eliminates all refined oils, including margarine, mayonnaise, dairy butter, fried foods and cooking fats, but some nuts, seeds, legumes, and olives may be allowed.

Some other diseases are characterized by inflammation of tissues supplied by rich capillary beds. In these disorders, plugging of small capillary beds by clusters of red blood cells may be part of the cause of the disease. These red blood cell clusters are promoted by the ingestion of fats, alcohol, and other reducing substances, as the surfaces of the cells become sticky when these articles of diet are taken. Also, the manufacture of alcoholic substances in the gastrointestinal tract promotes the formation of these clusters of cells that plug the small capillaries. Individuals with arthritis, inner or middle ear problems, infections, endocrine disorders (adrenals, thyroid, ovaries, etc.) and a number of other diseases will benefit from a low-fat, natural diet free from animal products.

Fats are difficult to handle in the liver and a completely separate system for handling fats is provided through the lymphatic channels, a system of vessels that is capable of absorbing 60% or more of the fat we take in at meals. Were all of the fat from a meal dumped into the bloodstream at one time it would overwhelm the liver and doubtless plug up all the rich capillary beds such as those around the adrenals, in the kidneys, around joints, and in many other areas. Our Divine Creator protected us against such a likelihood by making a separate system for the absorption of fats through the lacteals, which are lymphatic channels in the small bowel. In this way tissue oxygenation is not dangerously reduced by fatty meals in most persons. Nevertheless, individuals with diseases in tissues supplied by rich capillary beds should do their part to protect the body from the problems that too much fat imposes.

Contact Us For More Information

Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center
30 Uchee Pines Road #75
Seale, Alabama 36875